After border apprehensions dipped in April amongst the coronavirus pandemic, July statistics from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) show the number of encounters at the southwest border back up to levels similar to four out of the five previous years.
Total encounters increased by 24 percent from June, climbing from 33,000 to 41,000.
A further breakdown of apprehensions shows that the CBP regional sectors in Texas saw a 34 percent increase, which was highest in the Rio Grande Valley sector with a 41 percent increase.
CBP reports that 7,536 apprehensions were conducted in the South Texas sector, which includes Hidalgo and Cameron counties.
No other sector along the U.S.-Mexico border had a higher number of apprehensions, a trend that has been consistent since the fiscal year began last October, though changes in apprehensions by sector have varied month to month.
As the number of apprehensions have picked up in the Rio Grande Valley, so have the number of coronavirus cases, with the region facing a high number of hospitalizations in July.
Last week, the McAllen Convention Center was transformed into a temporary healthcare facility and began receiving patients in order to alleviate the pressure placed on local hospitals.
Immigrants attempting to cross the border illegally in South Texas also have to contend with the blistering heat of July.
Near Brownsville, for example, CBP reports that border patrol agents rescued two Mexican women who were left behind in a cotton field by the group they crossed with since they could not keep up due to hot temperatures.
While the number of border apprehensions have returned to levels on par with recent years, they are still not as high as record highs in 2019.
The decline has come alongside a shift in the demographics of individuals attempting to cross the border.
While a significant portion of encounters last year were with families traveling from Central American nations, CBP officials say that the single adult males coming from Mexico comprise the vast majority of encounters this year.
“Last month, 78% of our total enforcement encounters were migrants from Mexico. This new surge of single adult Mexican males are not [simply] turning themselves over to USBP like we saw the families doing—they’re running and fighting. Doing everything to avoid apprehension,” said acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.